Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 46

She shivered from the cold walking slowly to avoid slipping on the ice again. With an almost unhappy huff, she pulled her coat tighter around her and wondered why in the world she’d decided to wear a sleeveless shirt when it was all of five degrees out here. Not factoring in the wind chill.

The sun was starting to lower, just dropping the temperature more. It wasn’t even dinner time yet and already she’d bruised her butt falling down, fought with Jack, ran all over town twice, and lost the keys for her car. But it wasn’t all bad.

Her best friend and the resident angel were making progress all on their own, making the job she, Lucy and Valerie had decided to take a dozen times easier. And the look of utter bliss they both wore while sleeping and holding each other this morning was enough to bring a smile to her face just thinking about it.

It was also enough to strengthen their resolve.

Which was why she was trudging through seemingly endless sludge that salt, sand and traffic has turned the once beautiful, white, clean snow into. The icicles that had once been her toes were what informed her that wearing her new suede shoes had been a bad idea. Something told her the boots weren’t going to survive their adventures today.

Spotting the woman that should be preparing to marry her father on the sidewalk outside the Recovery Room, she unfolded her arms and called out for her to wait. Waving, she quickened her steps just slightly and tried not to look flabbergasted that even in a dress that didn’t even hit her knees, she showed no signs of being cold.

She made a mental note to ask her for a ride home later.

“Livvie, oh my goodness! What in the world happened to you?”

“Long story. It hasn’t been as great a day as it started out being.” Sighing, she shook her head, dismissing the topic. “You’re early aren’t you?”

“No… Actually, I’m kind of a little itty bit late.”

Livvie looked at her watch and groaned. “Perfect, it’s dead. Come on, let’s go inside. I’m freezing.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course. I’m starving and we’ve got a lot of plans to make and not much time to make things happen.”

Opening the door for the older woman, Livvie blinked as her words registered a few seconds later. Unfortunately, she released the door a little too soon in her shock, causing the thick piece of wood to hit her already sore behind painfully hard. “Ow,” she muttered weakly to herself, finally moving to sit at the table with Lucy. “W-What do you mean we don’t have much time?” she asked in what she hoped was a nonchalant tone as she slipped out of her still damp coat.

“Well, my cousin insists that he has to leave soon. He refuses to tell me why though. Of course, I think he’s probably afraid of getting hurt, or just used to being on his own, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t guess it really matters anyway, we’ve just got to give him a harmless, helpful little shove in the direction he wants to go anyway to change his mind. Because I know my cousin better than he thinks, he doesn’t want to go. So, why not let Alison give him a really big, really great reason to stay?”

“It may not be that simple, you know,” Val said, stepping up to the table. “I mean, I don’t know him that well at all, but he really seems like the Martyr type. You know, giving up what he wants for what he thinks is best for her, or what he thinks she wants. It’s almost sweet really, but totally aggravating at the same time.”

“I went through that phase with Jack… What is it with men in this town and a white knight complex?” Livvie turned her eyes back to Lucy. “Anyway, that fits Rafe perfectly. He’s definitely the Martyr type.”

“Well… I didn’t say it would be easy! I never, ever once claimed that at all.”

“Well, I’m in if you need me either way.” Valerie shrugged her shoulders and tapped her favorite blue Bic ballpoint pen on the order pan in her other hand. “You guys want to order something to fuel your brains while you plot and fill me in?”

Just then, the aroma of her favorite restaurant hit her hard and made her realize with a start that she was famished. “I want a double bacon cheeseburger with mayo, no onions, large fries and a diet Coke. No, wait, make that a chocolate shake.” Turning to Lucy again, she shrugged. “I think I earned it.”

“I… You know what, I’ll have the same, Val, thanks. But can you start us off with some hot chocolate? It’s cold outside and we need to warm up. Oh, when’s your break?”

“About half an hour away. I’ll go give your order to Victor and get your hot chocolate.”

“Thanks,” they said in unison as Valerie started toward the kitchen.

Livvie rubbed her hands together to try and warm them. “So, were the love birds still in bed when you left?”

“Yes,” Lucy nearly squealed. “And they looked so cute all cuddled up together and in love!” Even as she spoke she couldn’t keep from beaming for her cousin. “But that was a few hours ago, so they may have gotten up since then.”

“Not that either of them would want that.”

“Not that either of them would admit that.”

They both sighed, disappointed by the thought and curious of what had really happened. “Anyway,” Livvie said to break the silence. “Are we still doing dinner at The Grille?”

“Yes, yes, yes! I’ve got reservations and a dress and everything.” Lucy grabbed Valerie’s wrist as she sat down their hot drinks. “Hey, are you working tomorrow? Because you are more than welcome to come along. We may need the help.”

“Thanks,” Val smiled. “But I do have to work. It’s been crazy around here. But don’t tell Alison that, alright? Knowing her she’ll come in and set back the plan you’ve got going.”

“Oh, ok. Well for the hot chocolate. I do wish you could make it though.”

“Thanks for including me. I’ve got to get back to work.”

Wrapping her fingers around her mug of hot chocolate, she let the heat nearly burn her. “Jack is still being an ass over the whole thing though, so he can’t know the idea is to push Rafe and Alison together or he’ll ruin it because he refuses to believe she and Jamal could grow apart. He thinks I’m forgetting that Jamal is my friend too.”

“Jamal and Valerie?”

“It’ll never work. She’d feel like his second choice. I was thinking more along the lines of… You and my dad.”

“Well… ok… But only as an excuse!”

“Cross my heart,” she answered with a smile just a little too wide. “I won’t do any matchmaking. I’m not a matchmaker! I just give harmless, helpful little shoves when needed. Not that you and my father need one. You two always come back together.”

Lucy tapped her fingernails impatiently on the table, not bothering to hide the suspicion in her look. “I don’t think we’re here to talk about me and your father…”

“Alright,” she sighed, deciding it would be best to let it slide. “I just don’t know what we’re supposed to do at this dinner that’s going to push Rafe and Alison together. Have you thought about that? Because I’m thinking it’s almost like meeting the family, you know? A little bit uncomfortable around the dinner table. We don’t want anything to put a damper on things.”

“Like your boyfriend shooting dirty looks across the table?”

“Yes. Like my boyfriend shooting dirty looks across the table, or you grilling Alison in that way that you do without even really realizing it sometimes. You know her, you like her, remember that will you?”

“Of course! Of course. I know her, I like her. That’s why I think she’d be perfect for my dear, dear sweet cousin.”

Valerie smiled a little uncomfortable herself, while balancing a tray and trying to sit down their food in front of them. “Why can’t it just be fate that they’re perfect for each other?” she asked, still smiling. “Because they just don’t get more perfectly matched than those two. Well, and they can’t stop smiling around each other.”

“Or when they’re thinking about each other,” Livvie added. “Do you need some help with that, Val?”

“No, no, it’s alright. I’ve got it.” Her smile was a little apologetic as she tried to speed up the process of unloading the tray in her hand. “So, you still thinking about the hooker, Lucy?”

“Yeah. It’s right there, I just need to reach out and grab it!”

Walking toward them slowly, she pulled off the leather jacket she’d worn under her coat that was ten sizes too big and still smelled like him. She wanted to smell like him. With a sigh, she continued on her way to the table, knowing she had to follow through now.

“I don’t know what you’re planning, but count me in.” Alison chirped, sitting at the free chair and snatching a fry from the plate in front of Livvie.

All three jaws dropped, but one of the girls dropped more than that. “Oh my God! Livvie I am so, so sorry,” Valerie cried as she grabbed for some napkins, handing them to the girl that was now wearing her chocolate shake.

Lucy’s eyes widened as Livvie tried to rid her white shirt of chocolate. “I’ve got it!”

“Good,” Alison said as she nodded, taking another fry from her friend’s plate. “Tell me all about it. Because Rafe is being way too difficult to deal with on my own. I want in.”

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